Armageddon is coming and the world’s only hope is a family of misfit superheroes who can’t stand the sight of each other. The Umbrella Academy is based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name and is very welcoming for fans and newcomers alike. Netflix might have lost the Marvel license, but they’ve replaced it with pure awesomeness.
When women across the world start giving birth to children with special abilities, the eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore), makes it his mission to adopt as many as possible. He’s able to get his hands on seven of them and sets up an academy to put their powers to good use.
Living at the academy is not a life of luxury as Reginald is a cold and distant person, who treats his children like lab experiments. He’s so infatuated with his work he even constructs an android mother to look after them because he can’t be bothered. After years of being sent on missions to save the world, and Reginald’s emotional abuse, one by one, the children grow into adults and abandon him.
Years later, Reginald dies under mysterious circumstances, and they all return to the academy. Time away has not healed old wounds and soon they’re at each other’s throats. While they bicker, two psychotic assassins have been sent by an organization to kill one of the seven who is trying to prevent a cataclysmic event from happening.
After an assault on the academy, the superheroes begin to piece together that Reginald’s death and the apocalypse have something in common. With the clock ticking, it’s a race to save the world.
While they might be superheroes, in any other universe they would be serving an extended stay in the mental ward. Each has their own problems with some bordering on criminality.
Luther (Tom Hopper), the man with superhuman strength, and de facto leader of the group, has been living in solitude on the moon for years. Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) has lost custody of her daughter because she was using her mind control powers as a parenting tool.
Diego (David Castaneda) is a vigilante blade master full of hostility that spends his nights cleaning up the streets of the city. Klaus (Robert Sheehan) is a drug-addicted kleptomaniac who can converse with the dead. Ben (Justin H. Min) is dead and can only communicate through Klaus if he can manage to sober him up.
Number Five (Aiden Gallagher) is an old man trapped in the body of a teenage boy who can warp through time and space. Vanya is the runt of the litter with no powers and is the most hated due to her publishing a tell-all book about their dysfunctional lives.
They might hate each other but as the season progresses it becomes apparent, they’ll have each other’s back when things get dicey. With numerous flashbacks, time travel, and what if scenarios that might come to pass each is explored fully. Just when you think you’ve figured out what’s going on the show throws a curveball that will have you rethinking everything.
It could have all easily ended up as a failure, but the engaging story, cast likeability, and humor will keep things interesting. It’s very well done, and most won’t see any of it coming unless you’ve read the comics. The final confrontation is epic but does slightly disappoint by ending on a huge cliffhanger, that will leave you waiting until next season.
The cherry on top of everything are the two main villains Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige). While many shows throw cardboard cutout villains at you, these two are anything but one-dimensional. Hazel is a disgruntled employee who’s tired of being screwed over by management. Cha-Cha is the exact opposite who is a dedicated assassin taking pride in her work.
Listening to these two have a hilarious exchange as one blames the other for their lack of torture skills really brings them to life. While their stone-cold killers, they do have a mutual respect for each other. Their likable bad guys and by the end, you’ll develop a strong attachment to them.
The action is an absolute treat to watch. Whether it’s Number Five wiping out a doughnut shop full of gunmen or Hazel and Cha-Cha shooting up a department store. With a full list of characters, each with their own unique superpower, the possibilities are endless on what you could see next.
The academy serves as a home base/gilded cage for the team. The inside has a unique variation that changes room to room, with an android and suit-wearing talking chimpanzee serving as the caretakers.
It feels like Reginald Hargreeves explored every corner of the early 20th century British Empire and decided to incorporate its elements into each room. The main entrance has a Victorian-era look leading into an atrium with an adjacent parlor lined with bookshelves.
The narrow hallways and rooms give the feeling of being trapped with no hope of escape. Greco-Roman pillars line the walls with a few Arabian styled archways on the upper level. The basement is fashioned in an old-style military Quonset hut look that serves as the kitchen. The entire house is a shrine to Reginald’s many worldly adventures over the decades.
The Umbrella Academy is a journey into the world of a group of superheroes and their dysfunctional lives. The main cast each have their own unique personality and power that will keep things interesting through the ten-episode run.
The villains are entertaining and show enough interpersonal conflict that will have them become favorites for many. The detailed academy serves as the headquarters and backdrop for most of the compelling plot narratives. The cliffhanger ending is a letdown, but the rest of the story is amazing from start to finish.